Ground up a batch of deer meat for burgers, fell apart

Discussion in 'Wild Game' started by novasbc, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. novasbc

    novasbc Smoke Blower

    This isn't precisely smoked (although I have smoked some hamburgers that tasted quite fine), but I'd like to be able to successfully grind my own hamburger meat, venison, or otherwise.

    I've had other meats do this to me (when I ground up some other beef for hamburgers), so I'm guessing it has to do with my grind, but I'm not sure what specifically.  Putting it in this forum, because my most recent try was deer meat.

    I decided to try a mix of 70/30 deer to bacon (ends and pieces, cheap).  Ran it through the grinder once with the 1/4" plate.  Then, did a mix to try and get the bacon and venison better mixed up. I probably could have used my wagon wheel (I think 3/8") plate for the first grind in retrospect. Then I ran it through my fine plate (5/32") a second and final time.

    First thing we noticed was that it was super moist (perhaps the bacon?), so I didn't add my usual  Worcestershire sauce.  I can't remember if previous attempts with just beef was quite as moist.  I made 1/4 lb patties, so I could keep them a bit thinner (versus usually 1/3 lb. beef).  We added 1 egg per pound of meat, maybe that also contributed.

    When it came to the grilling part, I have had this happen before, I go to cook it, and I treat it more or less like when I do 75" lean hamburger meat from the store.  I typically put an indention in the burger in the middle, and I cook it  on medium-high, so that in 3-4 minutes, a pool of juices starts forming in that indention.  Then, I flip it once, and wait for the juices to start coming out (clear) on the other side.  At that point, I put it in a closed container for them to rest.

    Well, with these venison burgers, lots and lots of juice came out the top, but every time I'd go to flip it, the bottom was sticking to the grates.  The first batch got overdone because I kept waiting for them to be flappable, but they never got there.  In the end, on all of the ones I cooked, I ended up with an amount of meat staying stuck to the grill, that I later burned off for the next batch.  While being careful, I could keep them together, but I had to melt some cheese on to get them to really stick together for folks to be able to actually eat them.

    We also made some small slider-sized patties that turned out a bit better, but I cooked those last, and by that time, I had gotten the process a bit better (starting out with full heat, then dropping down after a bit of a sear).  They still separated, but perhaps not quite as bad.

    So, to make a long story short, what will cause the meat to not stick together like I experienced?  I'd assume it was just venison, but since I've had it happen on my own ground meats before, I tend to doubt it.

    Any advice?

  2. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    More fat. Too lean. I have only made venison burger one time without adding at least 20 percent fat and it was like you mentioned. Also, was the deer hung for very long? Could explain the moisture or if it was in a cooler with ice water for some time. Just some food for thought. I like to use pork shoulder at about a 70/30 rate, deer to pork. It seems to end up about 25-30 percent fat like that and makes for great burgers.
  3. novasbc

    novasbc Smoke Blower

    I added 30% pork trimmings.  If you figure it isn't 100% fat, I guessed it ended up at about 75% lean.

    I did not try pork shoulder this time, that is what I usually use for my sausage, and I have often done 60% pork to 40% venison (in a 25 pound batch, 15 pounds of pork to 10 pounds venison).

    I can keep trying to add more fat to the ratio, although I would try and switch to beef trim if I can find it, as I would like it to still taste like venison, and not just a pork burger.
  4. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Well heck, you are in Texas right? Shouldn't be too hard to find some beef trim. Hahaha.... I do my sausage the same as you. But for burger the higher venison to pork ratio. I have tried it with beef trim and just didn't like it as good. Personal taste I suppose.
  5. novasbc

    novasbc Smoke Blower

    So, you might run only 30% venison to pork in your case for burger?
  6. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I think it balances out the wildness. Now this is burger for hamburgers on the grill. most if the fat renders out. You get whitetail or mule deer or a mixture there? Is that farm country or open range or desert there? For whitetail here that are all grain and apple fed I wouldn't use any for burger personally. Of course we only get 1 deer per year.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  7. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Last big batch of burger I can recall was a couple of years ago in Idaho and I remember 70 pounds Venison to 30 pounds Butt. It was actually excellent in my opinion. Everybody else seemed to like it.
  8. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    other way around
  9. deer burger .............. 10 lb deer meat ....... 2 lb bacon ........  2 lb beef suet  ............. grind twice thru a course plate .............. best deer burger you'll ever eat ...... suet adds lots of flavor ..... most people will think its beef 

    BTW .... if you cant find suet ,beef trimmings (fat) will work but I like suet better 
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  10. Hello.  The fat to lean ratio is important to keep the burger/sausage from being too dry.  No argument from me there.  Too dry and no matter what you do it will be crumbly.  I will assume your meat was well chilled as it should be for grinding.  When the meat is VERY cold ( as should be ) during grinding the fat doesn't always have a chance to "melt" with the lean.  When making sausage the more you hand mix the ground meat the stickier it gets because of the heat from your hands.  If you use a mechanical mixer the shear speen will heat the meat enough to break down the fat.  There are also 2 different schools of thought here.  When making burgers/sausage you have 2 options.  You add the egg ( as you did ) and also a binder such as bread/cracker crumbs or even crushed corn flakes if you can believe ( not the ones with sugar coating ), to help hold the burger together.  Here you can use flavour because of the binder.  Option 2 is to work the meat together more to cause it to stick together.  If you buy ground meat from the store and just quickly make a burger it will fall apart usually.  The problem with both methods is the fine line.  Add to much binder and may as well eat cardboard.  Over mix the meat too long and it will become tough.and hard.  When I do burgers I use no egg or binders unless I need to make the meat go farther.  Just some practice.  As for sticking to the grill, oil the grill rack before dropping the burger.  Even better oil the burger.  Just my thoughts.  Keep Smokin!

  11. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    How old is the Meat... Meat left in the freezer for a lengthy period of time will make for a crumbly burger and also sausage......IMHO With lean venison its better to fry the burger in a cast iron pan with some onions.....yummmmmm

  12. sb59

    sb59 Smoking Fanatic

    I grill deer burger all the time & add nothing to the meat except lightly brushing with evoo before putting on a screaming hot cast iron grill or fry pan. I'll admit they are delicate but if you wait till they sear they won't stick or fall apart. Start with a clean grill and don't oil the grill. Waste of oil as it simply burns off. If it sticks wait a bit longer til it releases to flip. 
  13. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    70% venison /30% fat is the right mix,2 grinds for proper mixing and oil the burger before hitting the grill. never had a burger fall apart and I  eat deer or moose burgers  weekly. Don't know what happened ? Usually a bacon burger is too fatty for me .
  14. novasbc

    novasbc Smoke Blower

    When I shot the deer, the temperature was relatively warm out, we had to get it processed pretty quick.  After butchering, I let it soak in a cooler with ice on top (and the drain open) for several days.  My in-laws who have more experience preparing deer meat suggested that

    For all my deer sausage, I use 70/30 pork shoulder to venison.  Perhaps it is because I used cured bacon instead.
    I'll have to look at this combination, thanks!
    Usually I have the meat in the freezer, and run it through the grinder at the point that it's "almost" frozen, still workable.  In this instance, I didn't have enough time to keep opening the freezer to mix the meat (so as to avoid the outer layers being frozen, and the inside not close), so I just had it on ice until I ground it.
    The meat was vacuum packed, and stored in the freezer for about a month.  And, I believe these would have been fine in a pan, but I wanted to figure out where in the process I screwed up, so I wouldn't ever repeat it.
    60/40 or 70/30 are the ratios I have heard most often.  These burgers were fairly fatty, but the guests enjoyed them greatly.
  15. when you bone out your meat be very picky with what you use . If there is a doubt throw it out . Dont try to save bloody or fatty crap . YOU DONT WANT ANY DEER FAT !!! I would rather throw away a couple pounds of "iffy" meat than have it ruin 30 lbs of burger or sausage .
  16. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    My local deer processor makes bacon burger; I don't know what his ratio of venison to bacon is, but it doesn't stick to the grill or fall apart. It has a good hickory smoked flavor, even on the gas grill. A method I use for just ground venison when I run out of bacon burger is to mix it 50/50 with the cheap 1 lb. plastic tube of sausage from the grocery store. You can mix it with the burger by hand, and if you get the "hot" sausage it adds some extra flavor to the burger. The cheap stuff works better because it has more fat content than "Jimmy Dean" brand sausage would.
  17. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I second that. I spend a lot of time trimming. It sure makes grinding a lot more fun too.
  18. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I only grind one time for burger. I like that ground chuck look and texture. I don't know if it makes any difference or not but that is how I do it. Plus, I am stull using the KA stand mixer with the grinder attachment so re grinding is not so much fun.
  19. grinding once thru a small plate will work . I like it best for sausage but for burger I like twice thru a coarse plate . It makes the fat particles smaller and more evenly mixed thru the meat 
  20. novasbc

    novasbc Smoke Blower

    I definitely am picky.  As much deer fat as possible is removed, all bloody sections as well.  On the deer and even the pork butts, I look for the glands to remove them.  Some butchers seem to remove them, and others do not.
    I think next time I won't do the 5/32" grind, but run it once through the wagon wheel (3/8"), because it makes it easier to mix, and then only use the 1/4" (see the middle plate below).  In general, we like coarser grinds, but I had read for hamburger, you need to do it real fine.

    What is your definition of coarse?  I have the 3/8" plate (as seen in the picture above, on the right), I've never ground through it twice, but the consistency of a single grind through it isn't too great.  The one in the middle is a 1/4", which sometimes I feel is a little finer than I prefer.

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